ORLANDO, Fla. – Jacksonville University (10-10) struck out 10, including eight strikeouts from starter Michael Baumann, but the University of Central Florida (16-3) was still able to plate four runs on seven hits Friday evening. The Dolphins lost 4-0 to the Knights in the first game of a three-day, three-game weekend series.
"You have to credit Robby Howell," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "He had incredible control tonight and his stuff was really good. UCF is a really good baseball team, and for us to win in Orlando on Friday night when their best is at his best, we have to play great, and tonight we played okay but by no means did we play great."
Both teams were scoreless through two thanks to strong pitching and an impressive 5-3 double play, but the Knights' offense put its first run across in the bottom of the third. Consecutive singles with two outs plated a runner, and after three UCF led 1-0.
Two out hits again plagued JU in the fourth. Baumann had collected his third and fourth strikeouts of the game but had walked a batter in between. In the next at-bat the runner on first stole second, and then was plated on a 1-1 count single to right center field. An infield flyout to Sam Armstrong ended the threat, but it was 2-0 UCF after four innings.
The third run of the game scored on a Dolphin error in the bottom of the sixth. Baumann earned his eighth strikeout, then walked his final batter of the night in six pitches. Shane Wise relieved the junior from Mahtomedi, Minn., and though he struck out the first guy he faced, the runner on first was able to score on a failed pick-off attempt that turned into an error. Wise forced a flyout to end the inning, but after six UCF led 3-0.
The Dolphin bats got some action in the top of the seventh. Scott Dubrule whacked a single through the right side, and was mirrored by Seth DeWitt two batters later as the first baseman shot a single to left. But hard hit balls couldn't quite get over the wall, and JU stranded both runners. Wise got his second strikeout of the evening and the Dolphins' 10th of the game, but after seven UCF led 3-0.
The final run of the game came in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Knights hit a double down the left field line that just stayed fair with one out, then followed that up with an RBI single. After eight UCF led 4-0, and that stayed the final margin.
"We had some tough conditions tonight with the wind blowing straight in from right field," said Hayes. "We hit some balls on the screws really hard and it just didn't go our way. But that doesn't make tonight's offensive output acceptable. You've got to find a way to make your adjustments, put the ball in play with authority, and keep competing."
The Dolphins don't have to wait long to see UCF again. The Knights will travel to John Sessions Stadium Saturday and Sunday for the final two of this weekend's series. First pitch for Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m., and Sunday is JU's Salute to Service Day in which all military members will receive free admission.